Monday, November 2, 2009


The picture is the property of Elizabeth Harper

Daphne watched the stranger walk out to the gang plank where everyone would disembark.  She was puzzled, had she misunderstood his intent?  Had it been necessary to drop the diary overboard, she stood there second guessing herself.  Reaching out she grabbed Mary's hand and pulled her toward the boat rail.

"Where are you going so fast, Daphne?", Mary asked as she struggled to release her hand.  "We still have plenty of time to make it home."

"Did you notice the tall, black headed man standing next to us on the deck?  I want to see where he goes, come on" , she said as she shoved their way through.

"Man, what man?"

Daphne looked out over the sea of people walking along the dock, "Help me find him, he's wearing a white linen suit, and he's taller than most people, so he should be easy to spot."

"Is that him?"

Daphne turned to see Mary pointing to the right which led to the car park, "Yes, come on."

"Why do you want to follow him? Is he a pickpocket, did he steal something from you?"

Daphne continued hurrying down the gangplank and out toward the car park, "I'll explain when we get in the car; come on, I don't want to lose him."

They did lose him!  A group of passengers suddenly stopped, causing her to bump into two of the men. All three fell to the ground and it took a minute to untangle and be helped up. She tried to hurry around them, but they wanted to be sure she was alright and to apologize. She reassured them she was fine, and pulled herself away. As they walked to their car, she glanced around to see if he was in sight.

Mary maneuvered the car onto the highway toward home, "Okay, now tell me what's going on!"

"Mom's diary was more than just a day to day listing of what she did.  Her last three months included pages with numbers and the initials JF.  At first I thought they were dollar amounts, then you told me about Mom's letter, and something clicked".

She turned to face Mary,  "Last summer, when the filing clerk was on maternity leave, I helped out at Dad's office, one of my jobs was to refile clients folders to cabinets with the corresponding  number listed on the folder tab.  Those numbers were similar to the numbers in Mom's diary."

Mary looked thoughtful, "In her letter, your Mom said that she thought Jeremiah Feldman had created false clients so that he could turn in expenses for reimbursement.  While that's stealing from the company, your Dad could have addressed that and bought out Jeremiah's part of the company.  It doesn't seem important enough to keep up with in her diary."

"You remember when Jeremiah came to Dad about forming the company?  There were rumors of his being involved with Benson, the Birmingham mayor at the time.  Benson was later indicted and convicted for taking bribes and giving city jobs to friends and relatives without their having to bid for the jobs.  It was even rumored he had a hand in the accidental death of his opponent. Though that was never proved."

As Mary drove the car into her garage she asked, "What does the stranger have to do with what's going on and why was it necessary to drop the diary overboard?"

Daphne signed, "I don't know, he may not have had anything to do with Jeremiah or Dad.  I do know that I've got to return to Birmingham so I can talk with Dad.  Then I'll decide what to do with the information."

The next day Mary drove Daphne to the airport hugging her and making her promise to keep her informed when she found out what was going on.  Daphne hugged back and assured her she would call as soon as she found out anything.

What Daphne didn't tell Mary is that she had the real diary hidden back in her backpack, along with her notes and her mother's letter. She felt the diary might prove important.  Carrying it around made her nervous, so when Mary had asked her to go into the village to pick up bread, she took that opportunity to run into the post office to make a copy.  She then replaced the original with the copy, which was now lying deep in the water, at least she hoped it was deep.  Not knowing what the stranger wanted and if he was working for or with someone, Daphne decided not to tell Mary.  That way if she were asked any questions, her response would be the diary had been dropped overboard.

Leaning back in the airplane seat, she realized how tired she was.  She knew part of the tiredness had to do with wondering how her Dad fit into all of this.  Why hadn't her Mom told her Dad; why did he pretend he needed it back to find a specific wine?

The bump of the plane landing woke her up.  She watched as the landscape slid by, then gathered her  luggage to exit the plane. As she walked out to the passenger terminal, she was surprised  to see her father standing there since the Birmingham airport usually only allowed passengers in the loading and disembarking areas. She stopped  when she saw the stranger standing beside her Dad, glancing around she looked for a way to escape.

Hurriedly her Dad came up to her giving her a welcoming hug.  He turned to the stranger, "Daphne, this is Agent Derek Anderson with the FBI."

She stared, "FBI"?

Stretching out his hand toward her, he clasped hers, "Yes ma'am. Lets pick up your luggage and go for coffee."

After they were settled her Dad began the story.  During her illness, Mom had kept a box by her bed.  She called it her writing box because it contained notebooks and stationery paper she used to write on and send letters to people as she lay there.  After she died, Dad couldn't bring himself to open it, until the week after Daphne had gone to visit Mary.  In the box, her Mom had left a letter addressed to her Dad.  In it she wrote about Jeremiah Feldman.  During a rough spot that Daphne's Mom and Dad were going through, her Mom and Jeremiah had a brief affair.

One night when she was at Jeremiah's house, she had picked up the phone to call me.  He was on the phone having a conversation regarding his files on Benson and others involved with Benson.  She overheard Jeremiah state that the files were hidden among his "clean" clients.  He then proceeded to say the ones in question started with the numbers 181.  Quietly she hung up the phone.  At some point Feldman found out she knew he had been involved  with Benson.  This was after the affair had ended and she'd been diagnosed with cancer.  He threatened to tell my Dad if she told anyone.  She was so overcome with guilt and shame, plus knowing the pain it would cause Daphne and her Dad, she just didn't want the remaining few months of her life to be clouded by hurt feelings and anger.  There wasn't time to make things right, so she didn't say anything.  She wrote all this in a letter for Daphne's Dad to read.  After overhearing Jeremiah's phone conversation, she had made a copy of his keys.  At the time she didn't have a specific plan in mind.  Later though, when he was out of town taking depositions or vacation, she went to his office and searched for all of the files that started with the number 181.  She then wrote down the number on the dates he was gone.  When she began to realize she was getting to the point where she wasn't able to leave the house or even get out of bed, Mom hid the diary in my backpack.

After reading the letter, Dad called the FBI office. He discussed everything with Agent Derek Anderson, who suggested that Dad call me and request that she mail the diary back to him.  When Daphne didn't, Agent Anderson decided to fly to St. Annes to talk with her.  Mary and Daphne had already left for the ferry when he arrived at the house.  Fortunately, after learning all of this from the housekeeper and receiving directions to where we had gone, he managed to catch the last ferry to the island.  As he was standing there waiting for us to catch  it back, he almost missed us and the ferry.  He made a mad dash and landed on the deck as it was pulling away from the dock.  He had to look for us on the decks.  He was beginning to doubt we were on board when he  saw Daphne sitting there with the diary on her lap.  Suddenly Daphne jumped up and dropped it overboard.  When He realized he had startled me into dropping it overboard, he was disgusted with himself for not immediately introducing himself, he just walked away.

As he was flying back to the states, it occurred to Derek that Daphne might have made notes or even copied some of the pages.  Until they had physical evidence to support their claims, the FBI couldn't arrest Jeremiah Feldman.

Daphne was so relieved that she started laughing.  Both of them looked at her as if she'd lost her mind.  Pulling herself together she explained that it is such a relief to know her Dad isn't involved and that the stranger on the ferry is an FBI agent, rather than someone out to harm them.  She explained that the original diary is in her backpack locked in the trunk of their car. The FBI is welcome to take everything they need to arrest and convict Jeremiah Feldman.

 Tell Me A Story Tuesdays project is sponsored by Elizabeth Harper of Gifts of The Journey.  This story is attached to the TMAST thirteenth week assignment.  The images are copyright of Elizabeth Harper and the words are copyright of Judy Harper.  Elizabeth's story can be found here and Gaelikaa's story can be found here. 


gaelikaa said...

Oh, I'm so glad you finished the story Judy, what a relief! Great ending, well done!

Agnes said...

GREAT ending!

You really know how to write, Judy!

Grannymar said...

An interesting ending to the story that I was not expecting.

sheeza said...

i like the trick and turns of the story. very well writen. infact ending was unexpected.

i enjoyed the element of suspense.

great work

sheeza said...

i like the trick and turns of the story. very well writen. infact ending was unexpected.

i enjoyed the element of suspense.

great work

Mighty M said...

I liked it! And am glad dad is in the clear!! ;-)

Anonymous said...

I like the surprise ending too. Well done!